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Written by Texas Highways

National Ranching Heritage Center

Step into a “living Christmas card” in Lubbock, where the National Ranching Heritage Center’s annual Candlelight at the Ranch re-creates a frontier prairie holiday scene. The center’s trails glow with more than 3,000 luminarias during the event (6-9 p.m. December 11-12) while reenactors depict Christmas festivities in about 15 of the center’s 19th-Century structures. There’s also an old-time fiddle dance in the 6666 barn and carolers strolling the grounds. In the center’s main gallery, Santa Claus visits with children and Brazos West plays cowboy Christmas music.

stitching alamoThe recent bestowing of World Heritage Site status to San Antonio’s five missions—the first attractions in Texas to receive this honor—has ensured an increase in the city’s already steady pilgrimage of visitors. And while touring the missions calls for a certain reverence, selecting a souvenir in the gift shop afterwards need not require such gravitas.

Diner FinishTravel is the gift we give ourselves.

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On a chilly December evening, the streets of Galveston’s historic Strand District are eerily still as a slow-moving fog rolls in off the harbor. Many of downtown’s touristy storefronts and busy-by-day eateries are closed at this hour. Yet, where we’re headed, the evening is just getting started.

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Although we live in the very modern 21st Century, most people still retain some 19th-Century traits. Among them, consider our Charles Dickens-like fondness for seasonal celebrations around blazing fireplaces, whether they resemble Tiny Tim’s humble inglenook alongside the Cratchit family hearthstone or the fires roaring in Mr. Fezziwig’s office, transformed into a festive dancehall by holly and tinsel.

02 KLEPPER snow west tx

Snow in West Texas, while usually as fleeting as a sandcastle in the surf, tends to imbue the landscape with a diffused, quiet melancholy.

Waxahachie59Have you ever noticed that, come December, we tend to focus on pursuits like buying and baking for those we love to the extent that we neglect actually spending quality time together?

brtyan2Houston businessman J.P. Bryan had been searching for the perfect site for a museum to showcase his immense collection of artifacts and artworks chronicling the history of the American Southwest. When he first stepped through the grand entrance of the former Galveston Orphans Home in the summer of 2013, he knew that he had found the right place.

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It’s 30 minutes before sunset and the crowd outside the gates of the Amarillo Botanical Gardens is stirring with anticipation. Tens of thousands of Christmas lights string the garden’s four-and-a-half acres, providing a colorful backdrop for at least three photographers who’ve entered early to shoot family portraits and a small video crew filming a model’s promotional portfolio.

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The Houghton Mifflin Company made history in 1952 with the publication of a novel called Sironia, Texas. At 840,000 words, the book’s two volumes made up what was believed to be the longest novel in the English language at the time, dwarfing both Gone with the Wind (500,000 words) and War and Peace (670,000 words).

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What I love most about this ranch,” says horseback guide Missy Cantrell as a wasp lands on the wide brim of her cowboy hat, “is the stewardship of the land.

camelCamels played important supporting roles in the Christmas story, carrying the storied kings and their gifts to the Christ child. Like all travelers, the entourage presumably paused en route to rest and restock supplies.

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